(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, October 28, 2011

October singles

It's time again to collect some music that caught my ear this month. Check out some funk, a couple of very different lo-fi retro songs, and some synth pop flavored rock. Pick your poison.

Greedy Cherry - No Excuse (from EP)

Bass player Michael Conrad recorded his EP under the band name Greedy Cherry. After graduating from the Berklee College of Music, he assembled a talented crew of musicians matched to each track of the project. Conrad took an experimental approach on the EP, jumping from style to style. The flow, especially on the first three tracks, is surprisingly coherent.

Lead off track No excuse was my favorite song from EP. The solid funk groove opens with a Temptations style bass line, but once it gets underway, it incorporates tasty guitar work and beautiful organ lines.

Funk often plays with a tight rhythm by slipping a little behind the beat, then catching up to create a kind of hang moment. Greedy Cherry extends this into a suspended hold. Check out the dub drop at 0:19. Everybody drops out except the keys for a full measure. As the organ holds a chord, the next 4 seconds float long enough to sound like a track glitch before slipping back in. It's all in the timing.

Bare Wires - Back on the Road (from Cheap Perfume)

I can't click through my inbox without tripping over yet another band strutting out their lo-fi, garage tone trying capture some retro cred. All too often, the band is just a muddy mess or, worse, they're somehow pretentiously sloppy. Yes, garage rock is lo-fi, reverbed, and twangy, but the real thing bottles lightning and can raise the hair on the back of your neck.

Oakland's Bare Wires understand this in their DNA. Not only do they hit that sweet fuzzy sonic spot, they get that live, all-at-once energy. Where their competition can sound right if the playback volume is high enough, Bare Wires sounds righteous at any volume.

Back on the Road starts out like the Animals with a dash of Who. The high tension beat and formal rhythm guitar evoke Roky Erickson - not when he's battling his demons, but when he's exultant. The hardest thing about listening is not picking up my guitar to play along.

Bare Wires just dropped their latest album, Cheap Perfume, on October 18 (Southpaw Records).

Mark Sultan - In Future Worlds (from the double release, Whatever/Whenever I Want)

Before you even watch the video, you owe it to yourself to read Mark Sultan's rant declaring war on rock 'n' roll. It's as heartfelt as any classic SubGenius rant, begging us to kill rock'n'roll to save it. This is how Sultan pulled me into his sphere. Reading about him, I figure he's some kind of snake-oil selling genius, but he's wormed his way into my brain.

In Future Worlds bridges garage psychedelia and doo-wop. Unlike Bare Wires, Sultan's version of the garage is anything but effortless. But the quirkiness is still compelling. The lyrics play with abstract imagery, and Sultan's voice shifts between intoned verses and the Del Shannon style chorus. Like the song itself, the video romps in joyful excess.

Continuing the complexity, Sultan has released two vinyl albums, What ever I Want and Whenever I Want, along with a compilation CD, Whatever/Whenever that pulls 7 tracks from each album.

The Gift - RGB (from Explode)

The Gift is a four piece band out of Portugal. They've made their mark back home, but now they're ready to grab some attention here in the States. Their latest album, Explode, released here last month and they had a quick cross country tour before heading down to Brazil.

RGB shows off their lush synth pop infused sound. The synthesizer riff and washes set the hook, but a solid rock beat kicks in to shift the feel from electronica to pop. The interlocking guitar lines and heavy drum work mesh smoothly with the synth underpinnings. Sónia Tavares' voice is strong, deep, and fluid.

Grab the free download and enjoy the Gift's polished sound.

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